According to a recent study published in the medical journal Neurology, elderly persons who consume low levels of vitamin B-12 and folate may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Milk is a good source of vitamin B-12. In fact, three cups of milk provide the entire amount of vitamin B-12 needed by most adults each day.
The study followed 370 people, ages 75 and older, for three years and found that the risk for developing AD doubled among participants who had low levels of vitamin B-12 in their blood when compared to those with normal levels.
"The human body does not produce vitamin B-12 naturally, so it is important to incorporate these nutrients into the diet throughout a person's lifetime," said Susan Adams, MS, RD, an extension agent at the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Family Nutrition Education Program.
"Older adults should keep in mind that they need about the same amount of vitamins and minerals everyday as when they were younger. Although caloric needs generally decrease as people age, older adults still need to find ways to incorporate adequate amounts of these important nutrients into their diets."
The Center for Disease Control recently reported that deaths from Alzheimer's disease in 1999 surpassed the totals for other major causes of death, including motor vehicle accidents and breast cancer. According to the Alzheimer's Association , between now and 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer's disease will increase from an estimated 4 million to 14 million.
"The Neurology study is another indication of the true value of Alzheimer's research," said Helen Payton, development director at the Alzheimer's Association, Western and Central Washington Chapter. "Each study may lead us closer to ultimately finding a means of prevention or a cure for the disease."